Categories’s interview of Anshuman Raj (Rank- 107/ CSE 2019) [History Optional]’s interview of Anshuman Raj (Rank- 107/ CSE 2019) [History Optional]

Profile of the Candidate

Name Anshuman raj
Rank in Civil Services Exam 2019 107
Roll Number 1525217
Age 28
Total attempts in Civil Services Examination (including present one) 4
Optional Subject History
Medium for History Optional English
Marks in History Optional in Earlier Examinations (Mention marks in Paper I and II) 2nd attempt

Paper 1-132

Paper 2-125

3rd attempt

Paper 1- 135

Paper 2- 147

Home town/village Buxar
Any past Work-experience 5 years as marine engineering officer in Anglo eastern ship management. Hong Kong
Were you preparing full time or working and preparing? Working till 2018, after that full time preparation
Your place of preparation Home
Details of other success and failure in competitive exams
Details of coaching/ test series/ study material of any coaching used for History Optional

I studied history completely by myself, no coachings. Study material used are

1.    IGNOU BA

2.    Balyan’s handwritten notes

3.    Hemant jha’s printed and handwritten notes

4.    Self study history for Maps portion

5.    Other standard books

Educational Background
Percentage marks in class X 87.6
Percentage marks in class XII 83.4
Name of the subject in Graduation course and percentage marks B-TECH (Marine Engineering), 75%
Name of college of graduation and place Marine engineering and research institute Kolkata
Passing out year 2013
Post-graduation if any
Did your educational Background help in History Optional? No


Tell us something about yourself. 

I am Anshuman raj, from Buxar bihar. I have done my schooling from JNV (Jawahara Navodaya Vidyalaya) Buxar and JNV Ranchi. After graduation I worked with anglo eastern ship management company, Hong Kong for around 5 years. Currently I am working as assistant commissioner, IRS (C& CE). I like reading books, shayaris and chess.


Questions Related to History Optional

Why did you choose history as your optional subject?

I developed an interest in history while reading non-fictions in my college. When I started preparation, I thought it would be a good idea since I had some background knowledge to begin with. Moreover, I thought that history can be managed without coaching (which I couldn’t afford anyhow)

Mention positive and negative about the History Optional for those who what to take history optional.


  1. Its quite interesting if one likes to read about human history, you won’t get bored that’s for sure.
  2. Useful for GS1 and prelims


There are so many that its difficult to count, but still

  1. Way too long syllabus, will consume lot of time.
  2. You have to refer to so many comprehensive sources that its very difficult to retain all that knowledge.
  3. Contrary to popular belief history is quite dynamic and some times questions in mains might be quite surprising.
  4. Sources for maps are quite limited.

Mention booklist and sources which you followed for History Optional.

How did you prepare for Map Portion?

  • I devoted 30 minutes daily for maps, used self study history exclusively. Solved previous 5 years papers and revised it multiple times.

How much time per day you used to give the history optional during your preparation (both before and after prelims)?

  • 3-4 hour daily

Did you do answer writing regularly? If yes, what amount of time you devoted to it and how did it help you?

  • I used to write 5 GS questions daily in time bound manner. Apart from it every week I used to write one full length GS , one optional and one essay paper.

Did you maintain self-notes? If yes, how did it help you?

  • Yes I used to prepare micro notes in a way that I can revise it in shortest minimum time. They helped me improve my marks as I wrote more specifically rather than writing in abstract.
  • Have you solved previous years papers of history optional? Did it help you in the examination?
  • No I couldn’t solve them, but I read solutions from this website (

In your views, how the nature of questions asked in history optional changed in recent years?

  • Questions have become more dynamic. UPSC wants to know how deep our understanding really is. It is not about reproducing knowledge but often about justifying it. We have seen a shift towards sub-Altran history where questions about women, farmers, vernaculars are finding place in question paper.

Any specific thing you want to share about history optional?

  • Kindly research thoroughly before opting for history. It is not only lengthy but also demanding. I have seen that people often have misconception that in history questions are repeated, which is not true for current pattern. History is a beautiful subject and requires your complete attention, superficial knowledge might not help you fetch marks as we see in some other optionals.
Click here for Answer Sheet of Anshuman Raj [Rank 107, CSE- 2019]

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